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Tempered Steel Newsletter - April 2011

The Tempered Steel Organization
Uniting Wounded Warriors and the Public through Dialogue

Welcome to Tempered Steel

It is with great pride we launch our first newsletter! Our Organization is growing rapidly, touching lives across the country! This includes a few highlights from these past few months. Thank you for supporting our mission to connect wounded warriors with the public, creating open dialogue, and allowing our next generation to embrace the beauty within these men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country!
With Love,
The Tempered Steel Team


Tempered Steel Rocks the Schools!

Tempered Steel unites wounded soldiers with the public through dialogue, building relationships between our next generation and our wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, two new speakers joined us, sharing their stories of survival with students in Southern California.

Gunnery Sgt. Lino at Hesby Oaks Elementary

Gunnery Sergeant Tony Lino was blown up in Iraq...twice. He was an EOD, Explosives Ordinance Detonator, otherwise known as a Hurt Locker guy. We met when my family's foundation, Iraq Star, reconstructed his teeth, and we have been family ever since. As Tempered Steel grows, it is becoming a breeding ground of healing for wounded soldiers as well as our Iraq Star warriors. Wounded troops from all around are beginning to hear about the opportunity to teach our youth about the sacrifices made for our country by simply sharing their stories of survival and blessings from their trials. The students are not only able to connect with our military on a personal level, but in a way which encourages support for our men and women who serve and an appreciation for the sacrifices made for our freedoms. Tony spoke to sixty fourth graders at Hesby Oaks Elementary two days ago. It was his first time speaking for Tempered Steel. Today the children are still wearing the medals he gave out, the bracelets, and one little girl is sitting in her seat today knowing an American soldier who cares. This little girl tugged on his jacket after he spoke that day and whispered,"My mom and dad are from Iraq. My uncle was an Iraqi soldier. He was shot in the heart."

Lino on KCAL

Gunnery Sgt. Lino on KCAL 9 Los Angeles




JR Martinez is an actor, but he's a soldier first. He's a wounded warrior blown up in an explosion in 2003 when his Humvee hit a landmine. As his three fellow soldiers were ejected from the vehicle, JR was the driver, and watched the skin melt on his hands, in that seat, for ten minutes before they could get him out.

Almost three years at BAMC, and over thirty surgeries later, he thought his life was over...until his mother said something to him that would ultimately affect millions of lives around the world. She said, son, you have been given a gift. Now, for the rest of your life, you will know that people will love you for who you are, and not what you look like. It is YOU that will matter and can make a difference in this world.He now speaks for Tempered Steel, connecting with youths on a raw level, telling his story of survival and the power they hold in determining the direction of their lives amidst the biting reality of uncertainty.

Recently, JR spoke to a packed theater at Valencia High School for our organization, Tempered Steel. As many times as I've seen our troops speak for us, it never ceases to amaze me how the heart just aches and tears well in the eyes, even though I know their stories. You see, JR was finished after 45 minutes, but he stayed three hours. The kids didn't leave. After he was done, we were set to pack up to go, and a crowd of students encircled him, thanked him, and many went tot heir next class. There was a group however who needed more. Their hearts were aching for everything real, for the connection to linger and possibly heal their own wounds they carried inside. A young girl who wished to be a dancer who's dream was crushed by surgeries, a young girl with dark black hair and black eyeliner covering an absolutely beautiful face, hiding her pain of exclusion and isolation. A boy who sat throughout the speech with his hood over his head, his face in a staid expression walked up to him, tears in his eyes, he reached out his arms to JR. JR looked his way expecting to respond to his words, but all the boy could say was, "Man, please, I need a hug. I have to hug you. I have to thank you for being here, you have changed my life, you have no idea."

We sat in the theater for hours, talking about life, JR inspiring each student as he answered their regrets in life with encouragement, with hope, with the heart of Tempered Steel.

To find out more about JR for to 
By Micaela Bensko 

The Tempered Steel Photo Introspective

The Tempered Steel Photo Introspective, "Honoring the Wounds of War" is a visual expose' of the humanity behind the wounded warrior. Photographed by Micaela Bensko, The Introspective unveiled at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA on Veteran's Day 2010. It will continue a national tour in public buidings and museums and is in submission to The Smithsonian Institution for exhibition at The Smithsonian Castle in 2013. The goal of this Introspective is to connect the public with the returning 40,000 plus wounded and disfigured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans re-entering our society.   

FOX 11

Photo Introspective on FOX 11 News

 View samples of the imagery
with the song The Hero please visit 


The Tempered Steel Photo Introspective under the Wings of Air Force One


Tempered Steel  
16039 274th Road
Atchison, KS 66002

Telephone: (913) 370-0238 or (800) 294-5039
Fax: (866) 377-3343

[email protected] 

Tempered Steel Inc  
is a 501c3 Public Charity
Tax Id #27-2648828




Founder Luana Schneider and her son Sgt. Scott Stephenson


Luana Schneider and her son Ret. Army Sgt. Scott Stephenson co-founded Tempered Steel after he was seriously wounded and disfigured in Iraq in November 2006. Their first hand experience to the responses to Sgt. Stephenson's injuries, compelled them to break down the barriers between wounded veterans and those who only see their scars. The goal of Tempered Steel is to educate by engaging the public with the humanity behind the wounds of war.

In launching Tempered Steel, Scott and Luana contacted other severely wounded military members and asked for their participation and involvement. The response was overwhelmingly, "YES". Our severely injured military members have had to learn to deal with the public's perception of who they were based on nothing more than a glance. As these wounded explained, "they are in essence, still the person they were before the injuries..on the inside". To each of them they had not fundamentally changed who they were, just the way they looked and how the public now viewed them.

It is the goal of Tempered Steel to create an environment in which the 40,000+ returning wounded veterans are not only welcomed back to society, but embraced by our next generation. 





Tempered Steel

See us at work...





AW2 Symposium

Each year, AW2 organizes the AW2 Symposium to improve the support of AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.  
The AW2 Symposium is also an opportunity for AW2 Soldiers and Veterans to bond with their Families.  

Tempered Steel is attending the AW2 Symposium with 2 wounded warriors and 1-2 staff.  

This is a very important part of tempered steel's mission in supporting our fellow wounded army military members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.


JR Martinez Speaks for Tempered Steel

JR Martinez Speaks for Tempered Steel

Watch JR as he speaks for Tempered Steel at 
Valencia High School
in California

Get to know JR at 




Photo by Micaela Bensko

Look for Tempered Steel's Bobby Henline on The Today Show in May for his work with Tempered Steel.  






Iraq Star Logo
With gratitude to the support of our sister organization Iraq Star, providing free reconstructive surgery to our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.


Military Connection
The nation's largest online military resource! 



Tempered Steel Board
Micaela Bensko, President
Dr. Adam Buhman-Wiggs, Vice-President 
Donna Moranville,Treasurer
Peggie Brown, Secretary 


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